National Data | November Jobs Disaster—Immigrants Gain, Americans Lose, Illegal Aliens Surge. GOP Senate MUST Pass Immigration Moratorium!
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In Tucker Carlson’s now-famous interview with Die Weltwoche’s Urs Gehriger, he said flatly that Trump had not “kept his promises” (“there are a lot of reasons for that”) and that Trump’s historic role may just be “to begin the conversation about what actually matters”--above all, immigration policy. November’s jobs report supports Carlson: The “Trump Effect,” immigration reduction through jawboning and administrative changes, seems to have vanished; American Worker Displacement, Immigrant Workforce population and illegal immigration are all surging. With or without Trump, whatever “conversation” takes place about this problem clearly must include legislation—a border wall to stop the illegal alien flow; a second Operation Wetback and E-Verify, to get the illegal alien self-deporting; and above all, a moratorium on legal immigration—to secure the fruits of the current economic expansion for Americans.

Border Patrol statistics for November show continued deterioration in security along the U.S.-Mexican border. The Border Patrol apprehended more illegal intruders along the southern border than in any other month of the Trump era. The number of people apprehended rose to 62,456, the highest monthly level of the Trump presidency.


Not since November 2016, when illegals feared a soon-to-be inaugurated Trump would clamp down hard, has the influx exceeded November’s total. So far none of the administration’s “hard line” policies—deploying thousands of troops to the border, limiting the cases for which illegals can request asylum—appear to have deterred the influx.

The caravan crowd may well be behind the recent surge in apprehensions. A hot U.S. labor market undoubtedly contributes to the influx. Meanwhile, the border wall remains hostage to budget negotiations.

But note the good news: 2018 apprehensions through November are still below Obama’s catastrophic last years—for now. The bad news: it’s clear that the collapse in illegal immigration the early months of Trump’s presidency was temporary.

Meanwhile, immigrants (legal and illegal, federal data doesn’t distinguish) accounted for more than half the growth of U.S. working-age population over the past 12 months. Over that period, the foreign-born working-age population grew 1.476 million, while the U.S.-born grew by 1.283 million. Note that nearly 5 million native-born Americans were unemployed in November.

The Payroll Survey found net job growth of 155,000 in November, well below the 190,000 consensus prediction of economists. The “other” employment survey, of households rather than employers, reported a total job gain of 233,000. Our analysis finds that immigrants were the only winners. Native-born American employment declined in November.

In November:

  • Immigrant employment rose by 301,000 - up by 1.1%
  • Native-born American employment fell 68,000, down 0.1%
  • The immigrant employment index, set at 100.0 in January 2009, rose to 128.3 from 126.9 in October.
  • The native-born American employment index fell to 107.0 from 107.1 in October.
  • The New VDARE American Worker Displacement Index (NVDAWDI), our term for the ratio of immigrant to native-born employment growth indexes, rose to 119.9 from 118.5 in October. The all-time displacement high, 123.0, was set in April.


November marked a sharp uptick in American worker displacement, following what appeared to be a change for the better in October. Instead, we revisited the dismal performances of September and August: In September, native-born workers received less than one-quarter of jobs created; in August (like November) they lost jobs while immigrants gained them.

Why the surge in immigrant employment? Higher wages may have made the risk of apprehension immaterial. The year-over-year increase in wage growth remained at 3.1% for the second month in a row, a level not seen since the recession.

This good news should be tempered by the realization that even larger wage gains would have transpired had the immigrant share of employment not increased. Economist George Borjas estimates that every 10 percentage-point increase in the foreign-born share of employment reduces native wages by 3% to 4%. [ Immigration and the American Worker, by George Borjas,, April 9, 2013, and Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers , Politico, October 2016]. Since mid-2009 the foreign-born employment share has risen by about 2.7 percentage points—implying that wages would be about 1% higher than they are today had an immigration moratorium been in effect since then.

Trump is not even close to undoing the damage done by eight years of Obama. Native-born American workers lost ground to their foreign-born competitors throughout the Obama years. And this trend accelerated significantly in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

Trump has not broken this trend. Since taking office in January 2017, he has presided over a labor market in which immigrants have gained 1.78 million jobs, a 6.8% increase, while native-born Americans gained 2.934 million jobs—a rise of 2.3%. As far as the jobs are concerned, “America First” has not (yet) translated into Americans First.

Another way of looking at American worker displacement: the immigrant share of total U.S. employment.


Immigrants accounted for 17.7% of total employment in November, up substantially from October’s 17.54%, albeit well-below the all-time high (18.1%) recorded in April. Even so, the November 2018 figure is second-highest among the 119 months for which we have data.

Note to native-born American workers who think that a labor shortage is their friend: step quickly, boys and girls. Your replacements are crossing the border in near record numbers: the immigrant population of working age (16 years plus) increased by 1.476 million in November, the fourth consecutive month of 1 million+ growth.

With legal immigration running at about 1 million per annum, this implies a net illegal worker influx potentially in the hundreds of thousands. (In contrast, immigrant working age population actually shrank in the last five months of 2017 when the Trump Effect seemed to be really taking hold.)

These are net figures. Over a 12-month period an average of about 300,000 immigrants die and an equal number leave the U.S. voluntarily. So November’s 1.476 million net rise in adult foreign-born population implies that an astonishing 2.076 million immigrants may have actually settled in the country over the past year. (This excludes tourists and other short-term entrants.)

A detailed snapshot of American worker displacement over the past year is available in the Employment Status of the Civilian Population by Nativity table published in the monthly BLS Report.

Employment Status by Nativity, Nov. 2017- Nov. 2018

(numbers in 1000s; not seasonally adjusted)





% Change


Foreign born, 16 years and older

Civilian population





Civilian labor force





   Participation rate (%)










Employment/population %










Unemployment rate (%)





Not in labor force






Native born, 16 years and older

Civilian population





Civilian labor force





   Participation rate (%)










Employment/population %










Unemployment rate (%)





Not in labor force





Source: BLS, The Employment Situation-May 2018, Table A-7, December 7, 2018.



Over the past 12 months (November 2017 to November 2018):

  • The immigrant labor force (employed plus looking for work) rose by 4.83%; the native-born American labor force grew by 0.66%. A SEVEN-FOLD ADVANTAGE FOR IMMIGRANTS; NOT SINCE APRIL HAS IMMIGRANT LABOR FORCE GROWTH EXCEEDED NATIVE AMERICAN GROWTH BY THIS MARGIN.
  • The Labor Force Participation Rate, a sign of worker confidence and mobility, rose by 0.8 points for immigrants, and 0.1 points for native-born Americans. This is bad news; last month the immigrant participation rate rose “only” three times as much as the native rate. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS.
  • Immigrant employment grew 5.1%; native-born American employment rose by 1.6%. ADVANTAGE IMMIGRANTS, though reduced from the multiples we saw earlier this year.
  • The immigrant unemployment rate fell to 3.2%, a 5.9% drop from November 2017; the native-born American unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, a whopping 12.5% drop over the same period. A win for Americans over the past year, although high rates of displacement in recent months portend narrower year-over-year gains in the future
  • The number of native-born American unemployed fell by 606,000—an 11.3% drop; immigrant unemployment fell by 30,000—a 3.2% reduction. ADVANTAGE AMERICANS.

Over the long haul, only legislation can protect American workers from displacement. Tragically, the Trump Administration has lost its chance to pass legislation easily now that Democrats have regained the House. But at least it can use the GOP Senate majority to “begin the conversation.” How about passing an immigration moratorium?

Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants


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